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My Passive VR Shoes and Support Rig Setup

A project log for Virtual Reality Shoes

I'm making a shoe that allow you to walk around as much as you want in VR while staying in the same spot in real life

finallyfunctionalfinallyfunctional 10/17/2021 at 15:410 Comments

I haven't posted an update here in a while, but I have still been busy with this project. I've been posting regular updates on YouTube. Here is my latest demo.

I mentioned in my last build log that I wanted to try a passive system with a rigid support rig. This is what I came up with for my first version and I'm very happy with it.

I've gone into more details in my build logs on YouTube, but to summarize the VR shoes I'm wearing in this video are made mostly out of TPU and metal rods, so they are very durable. How durable? I through them on my cement floor here. I've tossed them on the floor, jumped on them, and have been using them regularly for a few months now and they are fine. 

These passive shoes have wheels that spin freely and stoppers on the front and back. If you think about a typical walking motion, when you are walking and you bring your foot back behind you, you lift your heel up, then lift your foot off the ground. The stoppers take advantage of this. When you lift your heel up the stopper gets pushed into the ground, stopping the shoe right where you want it to stop so you can lift it up without slipping. Walking backwards is a similar situation where you instead lift your toes up first, and this drives the back stopper into the ground. With these simple stoppers you're not just walking around on essentially roller skates. If that was the case it would be very easy to slide and slip. Using the shoes still takes some practice but the stoppers make it much easier.

Additionally I am walking on a platform that has some thin carpet stapled to it. It is just a 4ft square piece of wood, 3/4in thick, with thin carpet stapled to it. This carpet has a few functions. It provides a little bit of resistance so the VR shoes don't roll around quite as easily as they would otherwise. A little bit of resistance is good and the thin carpet strikes a good balance between easily rolling the shoes and stability. The other function of the carpet is that it reduces noise from the wheels by quite a bit.

You'll see that I'm also wearing a rigid support rig. It is bolted to two beams in my ceiling and consists mostly of pipes, pipe fittings, square tubes, and a safety harness around my waist. This support rig is what you push against to bring your feet back. It supports crouching and sitting.

For this setup, I don't have foot trackers yet. I tried Natural Locomotion but was having trouble getting the joycons I was using to stay connected to my computer. For now I'm just pushing on the joystick on the controller whenever I walk. I've been gaming my whole life so using the joystick is 2nd nature to me and I do not have to think about it, so this method is completely acceptable to me for now. Later I will try to make my own feet trackers.

I am going to soon make a video about what I think about this setup after using it for a couple of months. But to summarize my thoughts so far - 

Here are my pros and cons of this setup.

Pros

Cons

So my next steps are to make these videos - 

I'm also working on another support rig that doesn't require any bolting to the ceiling or walls. I will eventually try to add motors back into the VR shoes.

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